IBS: Waiting for the Next Flare Is Stressful
Last updated: July 2021
If you have IBS, you know what it is like to have a break between flares. Even though it is nice to have a break, it is also stressful. You spend your time waiting for the other shoe to drop because you know a relapse is coming. You know another flare is just around the corner. That stress can trigger a flare, and that makes it even more stressful.
I am currently in that lull between flares. Of course it is nice, but I know it can change without notice. It changes without warning, and it always happens suddenly. It seems that once I start to let my guard down, that is when the next flare will hit.
How others view the time between flares
Some people think that I can eat whatever I want when I am not having a flare. That is not true. Eating some foods can trigger a flare, and sometimes a flare decides to show up with a vengeance if I dared to stray too far from a safe diet. It does not matter that I am not in the midst of a flare. I can trigger one.
When you have IBS, you always have to be mindful of your diet. Flares come and go, but IBS is here to stay. It is always lurking just below the surface and can pop up at any time. I take great care to keep from triggering it so I do not have to endure a flare if I do not have to. People do not seem to understand that. They think the time between flares is a time to binge eat and throw caution to the wind. That simply is not true.
Never knowing what tomorrow holds
Every trip to the bathroom is a gamble. I have IBS-M, and I never know which way things will turn when I have a flare. I could enjoy days or even weeks between flares and then spend the next few weeks or months back and forth between both sides of IBS. When you have IBS, you never know what tomorrow will be like.
Not being able to anticipate basically any aspect of IBS is what makes it so complicated. We never know what is next. We cannot make plans without fear of having to break those plans. Flares decide a lot of our schedule, and there is little we can do about it. The uncertainty is enough to drive you mad.
Unable to enjoy flare-free days
Since my IBS-M has recently handed me horrible IBS-C flares, I have feared every episode. Whenever I think it has been too long since I went to the bathroom, that fear creeps in again. Is this the beginning of another IBS-C flare? It is awful to go often. It is awful not going often. The stress of it all just adds fuel to the fire.
While I am happy to have days filled with less pain, I find myself bracing for the storm to come. I know it is coming, but I do not know what it will bring. I will either be unable to go or unable to stop going. Neither is preferable. Right now I am simply waiting for the other shoe to drop. All I can do is wait and worry.
Do you worry about the return of flares? How do you handle the stress? I would love to hear how you deal with playing the waiting game between flares.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?